Coconut Curried Mussels with Cauliflower

Winter is here; the remaining fruit on the crabapple tree.

Winter is here; the remaining fruit on the crabapple tree.

I tend to do my grocery shopping on Saturdays and I frequently plan to try  a somewhat fussy recipe since I have more time to cook that night than during the week. So when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t resist it despite the long ingredient list. Mussels, coconut, curry, and cauliflower? What’s not to love? And with the heavy food laden season that is upon us, this was a perfect dinner with some crusty, warm bread and a side salad.

I recently discovered that mussels are best in months that have an “r” in them. Did you know that? Which explains why I see them on sale a lot in the late fall and early winter. I always find myself frustrated in the summer when I go to buy clams, because they are expensive and the amount you get doesn’t correlate with the pounds because they are weighed in their shell. But mussels usually are less expensive and frequently are bagged in one-pound nets.

My local Asian market is miles away, so when making this I substituted grated lime for the kaffir and left out the shrimp paste, and it was still delicious. And instead of Thai basil, I used just the usual Italian sweet basil and didn’t bother using the fresh dill weed.

DSCN0761Coconut Curried Mussels with Cauliflower
This recipe originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine. I used yellow cauliflower, which added to the dish’s golden hue. 

Curry paste
2 tablespoons thinly sliced peeled fresh lemongrass
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf

Mussels
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1 cup light coconut milk
48 mussels (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and debearded
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced Thai basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Preparation
1. To prepare curry paste, combine first 11 ingredients in a mortar or bowl; grind with a pestle until mixture forms a smooth paste.

2. To prepare mussels, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add cauliflower; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in curry paste, stock, and milk; bring to a boil. Add mussels; cover, and simmer 5 minutes or until mussels open. Discard any unopened shells. Stir in lime juice and herbs. Spoon into shallow bowls; serve immediately.